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Overhead DC electrification - a potential solution to the conundrum of EMUs?

Discussion in 'Diesel & Electric Traction' started by eldomtom2, Aug 21, 2023.

  1. acorb

    acorb Part of the furniture

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    The Manx Electric Railway is an excellent example of a large scale heritage electric operation. Double track, 18 miles in length, great scenery and seemingly very popular when I visited last month. The 'Electric Railway' description is very accurate, it is definitely not a tramway (even if trams are the main source of traction!). Having had little interest in trams etc prior to going, this railway seriously suprised and impressed me.
    The cost of building something similar from scratch though would be eye-watering, but the MER shows it is feasible in the heritage world. Batteries would make a lot more sense.
     
  2. CEPG

    CEPG New Member

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    There still Are a few Mk1 based EMUs around, though none have had an easy life in preservation because of the issue of power.

    If were talking about hypothetical, not only would Overhead DC electrification be an option, but so would AC. People laugh about it and say its impossible because its never been done. Yet every mainline operator has an approved safety case with the ORR and runs safely under OHLE.

    You would have to have robust training schemes, H&S measures and have an ORR approved contractor install and maintain the OHLE. Then any heritage operation would run just like a passenger TOC, and stay the hell away from the wires!

    Any restoration work would obviously have to be done well away from the wires and have strict isolation and earthing procedures, but again, that's nothing different to what a mainline depot has to do.

    Any such scheme would have to be investigated on a new site, as someone quite rightly pointed out, OHLE would never get past the board of any major line (finding safe storage for the vehicles alone is hard enough to get approved). It could however be engineered to a non obtrusive-heritage design, or use redundant assets being removed from the national network. The GEML and LTS still has 1949 1500V DC masts standing, although now carrying 25KV wires. Certainly one of the most heritage bits of infrastructure on that route!

    but of course the major issue for all of this is would be you would need a proverbial black hole of finance to fund such a venture, with limited returns. so much so that at the moment any such a scheme is in the realms of fantasy.

    So currently, many heritage EMU owning groups are going down the push/pull or battery options.

    Its certainly a big issue right now however, with many EMUs at risk because of the issue of power and many not given a safe haven where they can be preserved and conserved. Many are considered "no hopers" and a new site like the ERM which can act as a safe haven (and potentially explore the option of OHLE) is greatly needed right now.
     
  3. eldomtom2

    eldomtom2 New Member

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    Which is my point - the requirements for DC electrification would be less stringent and there's places like Crich which can be used as a model.
     
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  4. Romsey

    Romsey Part of the furniture

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    For what it is worth, one former electrified line in British Columbia is using rail mounted generators. The British Columbia Electric Railway wiring was removed in the late 1950's by the power company retained the wayleaves and power lines along Railways which remained operational for freight traffic. Eventually the Frazer Valley Heritage Railway was started up at Cloverdale south of Vancouver. They run on Sundays and statutory holidays April to October and perhaps Christmas.
    There is only one trouble with the gen-set, it's hard to see over it when driving from that end.
    Cheers, Neil
     

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  5. Romsey

    Romsey Part of the furniture

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    So perhaps the solution is the brake van of the emu filled with lithium batteries from scrap electric cars, lots of cooling fans and some cleaner electronics.....

    Cheers, Neil
     
  6. Eightpot

    Eightpot Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    Did they get the idea from our Hastings DEMU sets?
     
  7. Allegheny

    Allegheny Member

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    Could you run these on the Isle of Wight electric railway? - apart from through the tunnel.
     
  8. eldomtom2

    eldomtom2 New Member

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    Do you have more details on how the connection works?
     
  9. Romsey

    Romsey Part of the furniture

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    I am out of the UK and my main contact list is at home. From what I can remember is that the gen set has been modified to work at a voltage close to the 500 to 600 voltage that the BCER cars used.
    I'll ask for technical answers when I get home. It may take some time as my Frazer Valley Heritage Railway contact has just gone on holiday to Australia.
    Cheers, Neil
     
  10. Martin Adalar

    Martin Adalar New Member

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    This is a totally mad and impractical idea that will not be considered by anybody so i think you should just forget that you even raised the subject.
     
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  11. Bikermike

    Bikermike Well-Known Member

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    Nonsense! If we don't have slightly out-of-the-box ideas, we'll never get any where.

    Who remembers that young fool Rolt and some back-of-beyond half-derelict Welsh mineral line. Whatever became of that, eh?
     
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  12. Petra Wilde

    Petra Wilde New Member

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    No harm in raising a debate about this. But it’s quite clear that the first step is to identify a location and get enough money from those who would like to see this idea come to fruition. No use expecting any existing steam railways to accommodate a project which would require expensive and intrusive infrastructure, detracting from their main operation and competing for the available funding.
     
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  13. Chris86

    Chris86 Well-Known Member

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    Exactly this.

    What heritage railway, with a focus on Steam, and the steam era is likely to want all the extra unsightly, expensive infrastructure to facilitate this?

    Already we see round the UK that railways are struggling to keep current infrastructure operational, and there is less funding available for big projects- as well as pressure on storage space and an aging volunteer base.

    For any success to be had, it probably needs a new site- and I think even then it has very limited appeal to the public.

    I'm an enthusiast, and probably in reality I'd ride on one once to say that box has been ticked, as a family we have certainly looked at timetables and seen diesel or DMU rostered and decided not to bother- I don't really see this as any different.

    Chris
     
  14. The Green Howards

    The Green Howards Nat Pres stalwart

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    I'm an exception in that on the NVR I'd choose the Swedish railcar and trailer over the Pacer for a ride.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2023
  15. Chris86

    Chris86 Well-Known Member

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    I'd sooner walk than ride on a Pacer.

    Rode on them in service, they were awful then, nothing has changed now.

    I'd probably go on the NVR Swedish one, again, once for the novelty.

    Chris
     
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  16. The Green Howards

    The Green Howards Nat Pres stalwart

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    I think I have ridden on them in service - to get from Leeds to Hebden Bridge (with a reversal at Halifax, I recall).

    It was an experience, I'll grant you that.

    However... would you ride on a first generation railbus such as those made by W&M or AC Cars? I gladly would.
     
  17. Chris86

    Chris86 Well-Known Member

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    Probably once, to say I have.

    Family and kids wouldn't be interested though- as I said, wife in particular isn't keen to pay the premium to ride on a preserved railway, in/on a DMU when she can jump on one to go to Sheffield and back for £7.

    It's a more difficult sell than steam, and understandably so.

    Very noticeable that at the local Model engineers the number of passengers when it's internal combustion instead of steam is significantly lower.

    Chris
     
  18. Bagnall2067

    Bagnall2067 New Member

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    MENTOR does 100mph and despite the vehicle feeling like it might rattle itself to pieces any second at that speed the pantograph stays quite steady on the wire!
     
  19. Bikermike

    Bikermike Well-Known Member

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    It clearly cannot be the case that nobody wants to ride on OHLE railways, as otherwise the Manx Electric, Seaton Tramway, Crich, East Anglia Transport Museum wouldn't exist.

    Of course the WHLR was originally proposed to be electric, so doing that would be going back further in time than steam...

    Seaton of course is an interesting one, as it is completely ahistorical. Diesel days do pull in passengers.

    I doubt anything will replace steam, but it's well over 50 years since the end if mainline steam in EWS[1], so lots of other stuff is now in the "transport of yesteryear" bracket, and people will ride it.

    I think the model engineer thing is interesting, model engineer lines are purely about riding the train, there's no scenery/destination/bar[2] as an alternative, so that probably tells us where/how it might work. I suspect if the Brighton Belle set ever gets finished, it would work nicely on a scenic preserved line for dining specials.

    [1]avoiding the NI trap. And LU.
    [2] I'm sure a carefully placed drinks tray could be done, but a dining special is probably out of the question...
     

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